Creating a 'Virtual Switch' to Operate an Outlet


#1

I’ve read a few things in various threads but I want to make sure I am understanding.

I want to be able to SmartThings-enable the lights in a china cabinet. The lights for it are plugged in to an outlet hidden behind the cabinet and they are operated by a small dimmer knob in the cabinet itself. I want to avoid having to use the knob in the cabinet at all. I do want to be able to operate the lights without an app as well.

I could put an in-wall Z-Wave outlet in or even a plug-in device but then I am restricted to using the app and the cabinet knob for operation and, if the outlet/plug-in is OFF then using the cabinet knob won’t work anyway.

So, can I do this …

Nearby I have a switch box that houses the switch for the overhead dining lights. I’m thinking about putting in a second switch that is tied to the line/neutral/ground of the existing switch for power but nothing on the load. I’d put an in-wall outlet in behind the cabinet and control it via the new light switch via a SmartApp. I would not have dimming control via SmartThings but that’s okay.

Does this make sense? Will it work? Am I missing a simpler solution?


#2

That should work. There are also a couple of battery operated switches that you can just put on the wall if you prefer that.

BTW, you could still just use a plug-in pocket socket inside the cabinet if you want, those can also be controlled by any other device on the SmartThings network, including another switch or a button. So pressing on the wall switch sends a message to tell the pocket socket inside the wall to turn on.

Here’s the list of buttons and remotes that currently work with SmartThings. You can see if any of those look appealing to you. At least one of them is mains- powered, but most of them work on battery.


#3

Thanks JD. I had actually researched that thread and decided I wanted to match my other switches if possible and hardwire.

Currently the lights in the cabinet plug directly in to the wall. Are you suggesting plugging them in to a pocket socket then running a cord from that to the wall - thus making the pocket socket accessible? I’m not sure I see the advantage so I may be misunderstanding.

EDIT: Okay I thought about this more - if I can put a pocket socket in the cabinet somewhere (rather than hidden behind the cabinet) I could do away with the wall switch/in-wall outlet idea and I would retain dimming control via ST as well as the ability to operate with an app.


#4

Sorry if I was confusing. No, I’m suggesting that where they plug into the wall, you instead have them plug into a pocket socket that is plugged into that receptacle. Now you have networked control of those lights that you could do from an app.

In order to add an additional control from a wall switch, You can then use any networked wall switch, mains powered or battery powered or operating a micro relay inside the wall and then that switch can send a message to the hub which sends a message to the pocket socket

The point of all that is they don’t have to be on the same circuit. So it gives you total freedom for wherever you want to put the wall switch.

The lights are plugged in where they always were, there’s just a pocket socket between them and the original receptacle.

The switch is located whereever it’s convenient for you.

The switch communicates with the pocket socket not by being wired to it, but rather by sending a wireless message to the hub which sends a wireless message to the pocket socket.

So It just gives you a little more flexibility in switch placement since you no longer have to even think about where the plug-in lights are.

The Linear auxiliary switch is popular for this purpose if you want a mains powered “dummy” switch. It does not control a load, but it does communicate to the smartthings hub. So you can then use that message to trigger anything else in the smartthings system, including whatever is providing networked control of your cabinet lights.


#5

Thank you. Got it. That was were I was going with my point above …

Interesting about the Linear. Presumably the same does not apply to the GE add on switch?


#6

Correct, it does not work with the GE, because their auxiliary switch uses a physical traveler wire to talk to its master rather than communicating wirelessly. A GE auxiliary switch is invisible to the SmartThings hub, the hub only sees the master switch.


#7

Your help is much appreciated.


#8

I just mentioned the pocket socket because then you don’t have to do any wiring at the place where the lights plug-in. But if you want to you can just replace that receptacle with a networked version, it’s the same idea. :sunglasses: